What impact has COVID-19 had on football player valuations?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the entire football eco-system, causing considerable drops in clubs’ revenues and their players’ market value.

According to data presented by Psychic Ventures, the combined market value of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Mohamed Salah, as five of the world’s highest-paid football players, plunged by $173m in the last year.

Messi vs the rest

The Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi backs up his talent with the highest earnings.

Considered by many to be the greatest player on the planet, he tops Forbes’ list of the highest-paid football players.

Messi makes an annual salary of $126m at the Nou Camp, although his contract expires at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

However, the world’s highest-paid football player also witnessed the biggest drop in market value in 2020. The TransferMarkt data show his valuation plunged from $154m in December 2019 to $88 million in January 2021.

Statistics also indicate Messi’s market value has constantly been falling since May 2018, when it peaked at $180m.

The Portuguese superstar and the most popular athlete on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the second highest-paid football player globally. His Juventus contract brings him an annual salary of $117m, $9m less than Messi.

However, the Juventus forward also witnessed a substantial market value drop last year, with the figure going down from $82.5m in December 2019 to $66m in December 2020.

Neymar set a world-record with his $263m transfer to PSG from Barcelona in 2017.

With an annual salary of $96m, the Brazilian footballer ranked third on the Forbes list.

However, the TransferMarkt data show his market value plunged by $35.2m in 2020, the second-largest drop among the top five players. In December 2019, he was valued at $176m. This figure slumped to $140.8m in October last year.

The next generation leader, Kylian Mbappe confirmed his place among the best players on the planet by scoring four times as France won the 2018 World Cup.

His $215m transfer from Monaco to Paris Saint Germain in 2018, which made him the sports’ highest-paid teenager, remains the second most expensive in history.

The 22-year-old, who ranked fourth on the Forbes list, makes $42m per season. However, his market value dropped by $22m last year.

As the fifth football player on this list, Mohamed Salah made $37m last season after leading Liverpool to its first Premier League title in 30 years. Although the Egyptian footballer has the highest win rate of any league player to have appeared in more than 100 matches, his market value also dropped significantly last year. In December 2019, Salah was valued at $165m. In the next ten months, this figure fell to $132m.

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